ASUC supports soda tax, peer counseling

Ariel Hayat/Staff

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The ASUC Senate introduced four bills Wednesday regarding the support of a city soda tax, revisions to the budget, a peer counseling committee and amendments to the fund for the Berkeley Student Cooperative.

External Affairs Vice President Caitlin Quinn proposed SB 13, A Bill in Support of Measure D, which requests the ASUC to support the city’s proposal of a soda tax, which will be voted on in November.

Finance Officer Dennis Lee sponsored a bill on adjustments to the ASUC budget. By eliminating various programs, he was able to streamline the budget and allocate money to other funds and projects, particularly those initiated more recently that had not been accounted for in the original spring budget.

The Academic Assembly, a pilot program developed in the summer that aims to increase student representation and advocacy in academic issues, requested $1,000 worth of funding.

Developed by Senators Madison Gordon, Austin Pritzkat, Siddhant Puri and Vinay Ramesh in coordination with the Academic Affairs Vice President office, the program will create a 10-member body of undergraduate representatives from all six campus colleges and schools that will work with the AAVP to discuss issues and craft recommendations.

The Office of the AAVP also requested more money for scholarships and grants for out-of-state or international STEM students and transfer and reentry programs, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Executive Vice President requested less money for the ASUC internship program as part of its decision to accept fewer interns than in previous years.

Pritzkat sponsored a bill to amend a bylaw on the Cooperative Opportunity fund, which allocates money to campus cooperatives. His amendments adjust the fund’s expenditure limitations to reflect its recent budget increases.

He also sponsored a bill to establish an ad hoc committee for the proposed Peer Wellness Counseling program, which aims to promote peer-to-peer education and is of one of the Advocacy Agenda’s main initiatives to prioritize student health and wellness.

The committee, which would consist of five senators and ASUC President Pavan Upadhyayula as a nonvoting member, would oversee the program’s initial development and implementation.

Pritzkat said he will be working to provide a space within the ASUC for students to be able to work more collaboratively to create wellness programming and training.

“Different student communities will be able to come together to try to adjust to the student body’s needs for more peer wellness counseling,” Pritzkat said.

The four bills will be discussed in their respective committees Monday.

To fill the vacant AAVP position, a committee will look through nominations and select a candidate by Oct. 1. This candidate will then require a two-thirds vote of approval by the senate.

The next senate meeting will be Wednesday.

Heyun Jeong covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @heyunjeong.